Tow-truck drivers in Myrtle Beach should have quicker, easier access to emergencies along Ocean Boulevard this Memorial Day holiday with placards provided from the police department.
“There will be some avenues for access for fire, EMS and wreckers. It’s going to be a little bit different from last year,” Lt. Joey Crosby of the Myrtle Beach Police Department told seven tow-truck drivers who attended one of two informational meetings Wednesday afternoon.
Those emergency-access-only avenues will be 16th Avenue North, Eighth Avenue North, Sixth Avenue South and 21st Avenue South, Crosby said.
“As long as you have your placards on your vehicles like those cards that we gave you last year, there will be event staff up at Kings Highway, just say you need to go down to the boulevard to do a pickup and they’ll let you down those access points to go down there.”
Some tow-truck drivers said they had problems getting through last year. “A lot of the officers wouldn’t let us through” last year, said Billy Trimmer of Shoreline Towing.
Crosby said there could have been a breakdown in communication with event staff volunteers, but this year all officers should be informed about the placard and emergency access plans.
Officials have been meeting with tow-truck drivers and other groups in recent months to share police operational plans and tips on how to navigate traffic in preparation for this year’s Atlantic Beach Bikefest during Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of tourists are expected to visit the Grand Strand area over the long holiday weekend.
Safety, security and traffic control was beefed up last year after three people died and seven were injured in eight shootings on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. Many of the strategies implemented last year -- including a 23-mile loop starting on the Boulevard -- will return this year.
Crosby said event staff will be at the avenue access points on Ocean Boulevard to let wreckers through this year. During loop hours event staff will be at all of the street ends along Ocean Boulevard.
Better signage and an interactive map will help guide taxi cab drivers, chauffeurs, wreckers and other motorists through city streets during the Memorial Day weekend.
If people have questions … please send them our way.
Assistant Chief Amy Prock, Myrtle Beach Police Department
“The (traffic) loop is going to stay the same,” Crosby told the one cab driver who attended the first informational meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Law Enforcement Annex. “You may see a little bit (of a) difference to where there may have been a barricade here last year and they’re going to put cones there this year. So just a minor change here and there maybe, but as far as the pattern itself, the timeframe in which it will be held and the days it will be held, all of that is going to continue to be the same.”
The 23-mile traffic loop will route motorists around the city between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. each night from Friday through Sunday, May 27-29, like last year. The goal of the loop is to ease congestion on Ocean Boulevard caused by the thousands of tourists who flock to the area during Memorial Day weekend for Atlantic Beach Bikefest.
The traffic loop will route drivers from 29th Avenue North onto Ocean Boulevard south and around to Kings Highway, north to Harrelson Boulevard – which turns into George Bishop Parkway – west to Waccamaw Boulevard, which runs next to U.S. 501, onto S.C. 31 heading north to Grissom Parkway south and then onto U.S. 17 Bypass, looping back to 29th Avenue North.
Cab drivers, chauffeurs and other motorists needing to access the airport will be asked to use the Harrelson Boulevard exit off of U.S. 17 Bypass. Those north of the exit, should travel south on U.S. 17 Bypass to the Farrow Parkway exit where motorists can loop back around onto U.S. 17 Bypass north to the Harrelson exit.
Leaving the airport, drivers will need to turn right towards Kings Highway.
Crosby said better signage will be at the Myrtle Beach International Airport this year to direct the licensed transporters and motorists, who can use an interactive map service application to find the best routes to their locations.
The map will be available on the Myrtle Beach Police Department and the city of Myrtle Beach websites and through Quick Response (QR) codes scanned by smart phones. Users will be able to pinpoint their locations and routes through the map, which will direct them around road closures.
We will continue to do meetings through neighborhood watches so if you’re part of a neighborhood watch association, you’re more than welcome to come listen to us.
Lt. Joey Crosby, Myrtle Beach Police Department
Edward Van Loan, a Shamrock Cab driver, said he had no problems with the loop last year.
Myrtle Beach police Assistant Chief Amy Prock said that they are asking the community to help spread the word about traffic and safety plans.
“If people have questions … please send them our way,” she told Van Loan. “If people are having some concerns or are frustrated with this please have them call us.”
Prock said they are holding these educational meetings “well in advance” to help everyone get prepared and answer questions ahead of time “to make it an easier event.”